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Augusta National’s Women’s Amateur is an important statement


Sometimes it’s good to understand the second.

Imagine you’re standing on the tee at Golden Bell, Augusta National’s world-famous twelfth gap. The pin is 155 yards away, the wind’s swirling. You can’t take into consideration the pictures you’ve missed; that’s how Rory McIlroy gave away the Masters in 2011. You can’t take into consideration the pictures but to come back; that’s how Jordan Spieth gave away the Masters in 2016. You should be fully within the second, targeted on the duty at hand, with out considering of what led up up to now or what would possibly lie forward.

It’s in that spirit, then, that I supply this: The Augusta National Women’s Amateur, which concludes Saturday, is one of many most interesting contributions to the sport of golf that ANGC has created because the introduction of the Masters, full cease.

The ANWA started three years in the past as a shock announcement by incoming chairman Fred Ridley. In the press constructing, shock and shock ran by the media in attendance: A girls’s event? At Augusta? Really?

Really. “We are always looking for new ways to benefit and impact the game,” Ridley mentioned on the time. “We start with the premise and reality that we are very blessed to have the resources to do that. I met with our senior staff in October [2017] and said I thought this was the right time to do this, right time for the women’s game. I wanted to do this and I wanted to do it here.”

The ANWA in 2019. (David Cannon/Getty Images)

The ANWA in 2019. (David Cannon/Getty Images)

In the speedy wake of Ridley’s announcement, questions flew. Why solely newbie girls? Why not do a full, skilled girls’s Masters? Why schedule it towards the ANA Inspiration, one among 5 LPGA majors? And, after all: Why wasn’t this achieved earlier than?

Look, Augusta National’s elitist historical past doesn’t translate in any respect to 2021 beliefs of inclusion and variety. The membership deserved to be held to account for simultaneously proclaiming it was serving the interests of the game of golf while excluding women from its ranks.

But it’s not a betrayal of rules to understand after they’ve achieved one thing proper, as effectively. Acknowledging the membership’s previous additionally means acknowledging the progress that ANGC has comprised of that previous.

And for all of the hue and cry about Augusta’s overwhelmingly male membership, a event designed particularly for newbie girls will, in the long term, do much more good for the sport of golf than admitting a handful of highly effective, politically related girls to the ranks of the inexperienced jackets.

Think this is only a minor event? Want a way of how the gamers regard this honor? Take a have a look at the reactions of a few of these invited to compete:

“I remember the exact place I was sitting when Augusta National announced their women’s event,” wrote Nebraska’s Kate Smith. “It’s been a dream [ever] since. It’s with tears in my eyes that I say this is a dream come true.”

Here’s Anna Zanusso of Italy, a sophomore on the University of Denver, celebrating the second:

And right here’s Paris Hilinski, at 17 one of many youngest gamers within the discipline:

Many of Augusta National’s earliest leaders by no means fairly appeared to know the idea that despite the fact that they created and nurtured the Masters, it stopped being solely “theirs” the second they determined to open their doorways to the world and proclaim themselves the avatars and exemplars of an total sport.

Augusta National, as a golf course, is as a lot a murals as something you’d discover within the Louvre or any piece you’d hear from a symphony, and very like that artwork, its which means and its worth are partially a operate of the viewers observing and cherishing it. And typically, these viewers need to see the artwork evolve … not as a result of they need to injury it or cheapen it, however as a result of they need it to succeed in an even better viewers.

Hootie Johnson, the onetime chairman of Augusta National, famously as soon as confronted down a problem to the membership’s all-male membership by writing, “There may be a day when women are invited to join our membership, but that timetable will be ours, not at the point of a bayonet.”

Hyperbolic phrasing and all, it confirmed the mindset of Augusta National’s former management: no matter goes on out on Washington Road and past, when you enter the gates of the membership, change would come solely when the membership deemed it vital.

But since then, change has come all the identical — not on the level of a bayonet, however (maybe) on the verandah of the clubhouse over some post-round lemonade. Change, each within the type of feminine members and within the creation of the ANWA, got here as a result of the members of Augusta acknowledged that the best way they’d achieved enterprise up till now merely wouldn’t do, going ahead. Changing one’s thoughts and opening long-closed doorways usually aren’t indicators of weak point … they’re indicators of progress.

Granted, relying in your standpoint, you would possibly dismiss the ANWA as a crass attraction to political correctness. You would possibly imagine it’s merely a savvy enterprise transfer by an group observing the altering demographic tides in each golf and the nation at giant. And you would possibly imagine the membership’s stance, that this is an altruistic endeavor placed on for the great of the sport by among the (principally) males who’ve benefited probably the most from golf’s recognition.

Believe all or any of those choices, the actual fact stays — the event is right here, it’s taking place, and it’s bringing a complete lot of pleasure to a complete lot of gamers, and their followers, who had been shut out of Augusta for its total existence.

What’s subsequent for ladies at Augusta National? Will there be a full girls’s Masters? The membership’s not obligated to surrender extra weekends for an expert girls’s event, however then it wasn’t obligated to placed on an newbie one, both.

There’s nonetheless loads of work to be achieved to make golf an equal enjoying discipline for all. But that doesn’t imply we have to miss out on an opportunity to understand a second like this.

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Jay Busbee is a author for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him at [email protected]

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